The health and wellbeing benefits of employee volunteering

The health and wellbeing benefits of employee volunteering

1 September 2021

If you’ve volunteered before then you’ll know what we’re talking about when we say it leaves you with a warm, and fuzzy feeling, But did you know that employee volunteering has actually been proven to be good for your health too?

It’s no coincidence that once people get bitten by the volunteering-bug, they keep coming back for more. Not only does it benefit the charity and their service users, it benefits the volunteer too! Here’s a few of the health benefits that volunteering brings:

Counteracts feelings of depression

Volunteering is an underrated tool when it comes to combating feelings of depression. One study suggested that the reason why it’s an effective mental health tool is that the opportunity it affords to create new social connections.

Our need for human connection has a huge impact on both our mental and physical health. social isolation can lead to depression, anxiety, and even decreased cognitive function. Volunteering offers you the ability to build a support network of people who are likely to have the same values as you and creates opportunities to make new friends.

We hear from volunteers all the time how volunteering put a smile on their face, but don’t just take it from us. Researchers from the Berkeley University found that people are happier after they have done something kind for another person, so giving back is a tried and tested method of helping you to feel happier. 

Reduces feelings of stress

Everyone at one point or another has felt stressed, and feel they need an escape from routine tasks that have become overwhelming. Taking a step out of the usual routine to do something good for others can bring a sense of perspective and reminds you of the value that creating an impact has.

According to NCVO, employer supported volunteering has led to high satisfaction rates in 90% of volunteers and ignoring employee wellbeing comes at a high cost to both staff and their employer. Integrating volunteering is a meaningful commitment to the wellbeing of employees by giving them dedicated time away from their job, and helps to safeguard their mental health against stress. (At Social Good Connect, our team have an allowance of two hours per week for volunteering, meaning that employee stress-alleviation is a routine part of the business!)

Gives you a sense of purpose and fulfilment

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs sets out the conditions of human happiness. From the most basic needs, to aspirational desires – each tier represents different facets of what is required to achieve your needs.

employee volunteering maslow's heirarchy of needs

Call us biased, but we think volunteering is the icing on the cake! Self-actualisation sits at the top of the hierarchy and psychologist Maslow says that to reach ultimate fulfillment, we need to feel like were achieving something important and lasting. People need purpose, and employee volunteering gives  both a sense of belonging and fulfillment that can be harder to find in other activities.

Maintaining good mental hygiene is about more than just immediate remedies. By taking up a habit of doing something that you enjoy and that has a positive impact on the world around you gives a slow-release sense of satisfaction.

Gets you active, physically and mentally

One of the wellbeing benefits of employee volunteering is that people are often surprised by how much they enjoy trying to solve different challenges. It might mean using your business development head to solve some issues for a small local charity, or even something totally different. Thinking laterally can help improve highly sought-after problem solving skills and give you a competitive edge that you can take back to the workplace.

Or if you prefer getting out and about, carrying out deliveries for a foodbank, gardening in a community space, or leading yoga classes are some types of opportunities that can help get you moving.

Think differently about volunteering

There’s a misconception that volunteering is only about doing good for others, and whilst that’s partly true it only tells half the story. Employee volunteering carries so many benefits for the individual and can better emotional and physical health and wellbeing.

Why not talk to our Business Engagement Manager, Sarah, who can tell you about what modern volunteering actually looks like and the positive effects it can have for you and your employees.

Written by Caitlin Fyffe

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